Monday, April 28, 2014

There's preaching and then there is preaching .............. Parables 111

A review in a recent Edmonton newspaper praised the performance of a Christian music group, but had little good to say about the solo performer that shared the evening’s program. It said, “His set featured the bugaboos that turn the unconverted off... obvious arrangements, one‑dimensional lyrics... between heavy doses of preaching.”

It seemed that the critic thought preaching is okay if it is subtle, cushioned by “smooth, inventive” music, but obvious, straightforward preaching, unaccompanied by extraordinary talent, was not acceptable.

According to Webster, anyone who preaches is [1] giving a sermon (a religious discourse) or [2] pressuring someone to change in some way ‑ and doing so in “an offensive or tiresome manner”. Many people lump Webster’s definitions and consider any religious speaking offensive or tiresome. Sometimes they are right.

In the Bible, “preach” comes from several Greek words that mean “to herald or proclaim”, or more specifically, “to proclaim the good news concerning Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ’s activities included preaching. Later on, He told His disciples, “what you hear... preach!” After Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended into heaven, those same disciples “ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

Preaching the gospel, according to Romans 1, is how the “righteousness from God is revealed.” 1 Corinthians 1 says that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

The Apostle Paul agrees that preaching seems foolish to some. He says “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Those who don’t believe and are without eternal life may ridicule the message and the messengers, but those who know Him know how powerful is that message. It changes both our character and our destiny.

But the Apostle Paul warned Timothy, “Preach the Word... for the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead... they will gather... teachers who will say what (they) want to hear.”

Therefore, the hearers are responsibility to respond to the gospel when it is preached, not tune it out or turn it off. But preachers have a responsibility too. Some have slipped away from the truth they once knew. Paul warned a preacher, “Hold firm to the message as it has been taught...”

Then there are some preachers who have corrupted the message: “...who would trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7).

Others never knew the message, themselves being corrupt and full of selfish motives: “... there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers... ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not... for the sake of dishonest gain.”

Even good preaching offends, not because it is wrong but because it is right. When Christ is preached, one cannot help but see their own failure to measure up to the standard of God. We are all sinners, fallen short of His glory and deserving the death that Christ died on our behalf. That is the bad news. It hurts our pride.

The good news is that God is merciful. He delights to save sinners, to give us the life of Christ that will change us and set us free from the penalty of sin.

So how can we hear ‑ unless there is a preacher?

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